Gaze across the American West today and you’ll likely see the results of a two-decades long insult to the landscape: jagged gray forests of tree trunks. They’re all that’s left of the iconic pines that covered the mountains before a voracious insect destroyed some 60 million acres of forests from New Mexico to British Columbia.
When the pine beetle embarked on its destructive march through the Rockies in 1996, Ted Eynon ’85 was working for an energy services consulting firm out of Houston. Twenty years and a bunch of career success later, he’s the co-owner of one of North America’s fastest-growing craft ski companies, Meier Skis, and he’s turning some of those downed forests into downhill gold.
In Glenwood Springs, Colo., Eynon and the Meier Skis team use beetle-kill pine, along with locally sourced aspen, to turn out handmade skis and snowboards, essentially recycling a resource that otherwise might not have been put to use while keeping materials and production local. It’s an eco-friendly approach that’s at the heart of the company’s mission.
“The closer you can keep materials to the source of production, the more sustainable it is,” says Eynon, who, as UNH student body vice president spearheaded the effort to start a campus shuttle service that, in the years since he graduated, has grown into the Wildcat Transit system.
With high-grade aspen at their core, Meier skis have a lot of spring and flex, while also being “super strong, super bomber,” Eynon says. Rather than toxic lacquers, Meier applies only a clear topsheet to its skis, letting the natural wood and workmanship show through.
“It’s amazing how many people are drawn to our skis because of their beauty,” he says. The company has won awards from Freeskier Magazine and Skiing Magazine. ColoradoBiz Magazine recently named Meier Skis as one of the state’s top manufacturers, and at its Snow Show in 2013, SnowSports Industries honored the company for “promoting sustainable treatment of beetle-kill wood in the western U.S.”
Eynon runs the company, and on any given day the business administration and economics major touches every aspect of it — from finance, customer service, marketing and production to design and research and development.
Ski to Sea
Skiing is big at UNH, and surfing is, too. Even in winter.
He says growing a software business from scratch was the professional grist for his current adventure. Before Meier, he co-owned MapFrame, a software company that made mobile-based field automation mapping software used by 22 of the 25 largest utilities in North America. GE acquired MapFrame in 2008, but by then Eynon had mastered “the blocking and tackling of growing a business systematically … finding out what your customers want and crafting a product that meets their needs.” He went on to head up sales for GE’s global utility and communications software portfolio, traveling around the world and back several times before setting his sights on something closer to home.
To Meier, he brings deep business experience and a longstanding love of the sport. He grew up skiing at Mittersal and Cannon, where his father, Stuart Eynon ’49, was a ski instructor for four decades. (At 93, his father still skis, but today he wears Meier Skis.)
Eynon says a common theme among Meier devotees is passion. “They catch the first chair, and whether they’re hucking off 40 foot cliffs or spending all day on the blues, they do it with a big smile on their face. That’s our customer base.”
Originally published in UNH Magazine Spring 2016 Issue